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From Peer To Manager

Feelings Aside
Leadership
Internal Communication
New Manager
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

19 July, 2018

Thomas Bartolucci
Thomas Bartolucci

Engineering Director at Squarespace

Thomas Bartolucci discusses how he dealt from working alongside a peer to being their manager, and how he helped a new hire to fill his old role effectively.

Problem

I was managing around twenty people when I was given a promotion. This meant I went from managing twenty people to managing two people who were managing twenty people each. One of the managers was my backfill, but the other had been my peer and became my direct report. My peer was potentially interested the role I was given, so I needed to reset expectations with my peer. In addition, I also needed to provide the new hire with enough room to become the manager of the people I used to manage.

Actions taken

I called my peer to talk about the situation and he agreed to meet up. Fortunately, he was very amiable to the situation, and understood why the decision to promote me had been made. This could have been a really awkward situation, but through open communication and being very upfront, we were able to break through the tension. We had a very open dialogue about what my expectations were, what I wanted to accomplish in my new role, and how I saw our relationship. In addition, he gave me some feedback about what he had liked about our previous situation and what he was looking forward to. For the new hire, I temporarily stopped having my usual skip-level one-on-ones because I wanted to ensure that he had the chance to get to know his team and for his team to feel like he was the go-to person for them. I also had weekly one-on-ones with him to work out what he needed and to help with getting to know his team.

Lessons learned

If I had never sat down with my peer and had that conversation, there would have been too much left unsaid, and the situation could have become extremely awkward and uncomfortable. For the new hire, it was useful to give him space to get to know his team and for his team to come to see him as their go-to person. This gave him space to build relationships with his team members helped to avoid conflict.

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